Everybody’s talking about it. The ‘C’ word is cropping up in conversation everywhere. It’s even making it into prime time consumer TV advertising thanks to our friends at Microsoft. But ‘Doing Cloud’ means many different things to different people, and IT vendors everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon labelling their services as ‘Cloud’ or ‘Cloud Based’.
Consequently, IT managers and business owners are listening in and they are all coming to the same conclusion – ‘we’ve got to Do Cloud!’ But what interests me is that many have no idea what this means to them or their business, and therefore have no idea what it is that they are going to do.
Many companies in the IT Channel fear for their future as customers shift all their services to the cloud and cut resellers and distributors out of the loop. But this fear, in my view, is completely unfounded –this desire in the market to ‘Do Cloud’ coupled with the lack of understanding about what this really means represents one of the greatest opportunities for IT companies this millennium.
The way I see it, the role of the IT channel is to demistify (pun intended) ‘Doing Cloud’ for their customers. Sure they can all go onto the web and procure services direct from cloud vendors with their credit cards – but how is this any different to the way IT has always operated? Customers have almost always been able to buy hardware or software direct if they really wanted to. But they didn’t.
Customer’s need guidance when purchasing IT, to ensure that what they purchase is going to do the job they need it to do in their business. This fact has not changed, just because IT is moving to delivery ‘as a service’ models. Customers still need this guidance, they still need to procure different services from different vendors and combine them together as solutions.
What needs to change is the vendors that the IT Channel partners with. Many traditional vendors will be transitioning their models to ‘as a service’ but there are a whole host of new vendors offering cloud services which need the IT channel to help get their services to market. StratoGen is one such vendor – we’re keen to recruit new partners in the IT channel for our VMware Hosting ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ solutions. But we’re not alone in this regard, nor are we a one stop shop for ‘Doing Cloud’. Most cloud vendors operate in their own particular niche, offering a component which does not in itself represent a solution. We need the channel to bring these components together to really help their customers ‘Do Cloud’.